WHO: Skylar Grey

WHERE: The Glass House

WHEN: 07-30-11

Better than… the free parking at the Glass House.

“Has anyone ever cheated on you?” Skylar Grey asked the crowd on Saturday night. The response was a sad, resounding “Yes.”

“What did he do?” someone asked the performer, but the music started before Grey could answer. Darn.

Other than that, the suddenly en-vogue singer-songwriter's show felt strangely like a therapy Q&A session. She probably needed it. Although she's only 25, she's already experienced the highs and lows of the music industry.

Not familiar with Skylar Grey? You've certainly heard her.

Credit: Sheila Dichoso

Credit: Sheila Dichoso

Her voice gives emotional oomph to the hooks of rap tracks like Diddy-Dirty Money's “I'm Coming Home” and Eminem's “I Need a Doctor.” She's also a successful songwriter, having penned the chorus of Em's “Love the Way You Lie.” And remember back in 2006 when Fort Minor's “Where'd You Go?” was all over the radio? That's Grey singing the chorus.

She's formerly known as Holly Brook, and her real name is Holly Brook Hafermann. In the mid-2000s, however, she became disenchanted with the music industry, even disappearing into the Oregon woods for a time. At one point she was so broke she survived on fruit from trees.

Now she's back as Skylar Grey. Her stop at the Glass House was ahead of her upcoming fall album Invinsible and next week's Lollapalooza. Mostly, however, the Pomona show served to showcase her transition from little-known singer-songwriter to increasingly-renowned solo artist.

Still, a few fellas couldn't help but yell out “Holly!” before she took the stage. Grey's look was that of a badass babe on the pop tip; clad in a long, shredded hoodie, gray jeans, black motorcycle boots and a sports bra, she managed to rock the guitar with pop star sex appeal.

“I'm proud to be a fucking weirdo,” she said at the onset, before briefly covering Radiohead's “Creep” then segueing into “Weirdo,” a track off Invinsible.

Credit: Sheila Dichoso

Credit: Sheila Dichoso

Mid-show, she took off her hoodie and continued with the shrink sesh. “Do you ever feel so much pain you go numb?” she asked. The crowed roared. “This is a song about zombies,” she continued, and then proceeded into “Can't Haunt Me,” a song on which she collaborated with new friend Marilyn Manson. She interwove it with another '90s throwback, an impressive rendition of the Cranberries' protest song, “Zombie.”

Grey closed with what the crowd knew her best for. On the piano, she played a string of her hit choruses from “I'm Coming Home,” “I Need a Doctor” and “Love the Way You Lie.” It was pretty bittersweet and showed Grey's impressive range. She can tackle pop, rock and hip-hop, write hits and sing. As the behind-the-scenes gal for so long, it's evident she's about to grab the spotlight for herself.

Personal bias: I may have liked that Fort Minor song back in 2006.

The crowd: A motley crew of thirtysomethings with serious faces and black-clad high schoolers donning piercings and Bieber bangs.

Overheard in the crowd: “I love shows, but sometimes when you see the band live…they suck. I hope she doesn't suck.”

Random notebook dump: Her abs are bangin'. Her drummer is named Boots because his skin is pasty white from the ankles down. Ha! I need to find someone to christen with that moniker.

Set list:

“Building a Monster”

“Beautiful Nightmare”

“Dance Without You”


“Creep” (Radiohead cover)/”Weirdo”

“Final Warning”


“Can't Haunt Me”/”Zombie” (Cranberries cover)

“I'm Coming Home”/”I Need a Doctor”/”Love the Way You Lie” medley

“Building a Monster” (out)

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